Atlanta voters appear to approve water and sewer tax extension

Atlanta voters appeared Tuesday to overwhelmingly approve the extension of a penny sales tax that would pay for needed water and sewer improvements in the city.

Results from the vote were incomplete as of press time Tuesday, but votes in favor of renewal had a decisive lead among the precincts that were reporting.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he was “very happy” about the results, calling the taxabsolutely necessary.” If the vote had failed, water rates could have risen by about 30 percent in the city, he said.

“Voters understand how important clean water and infrastructure is,” Reed said. “It just shows the people of Atlanta really want us to make smart decisions.”

This is the final allowable renewal of the existing Municipal Option Sales Tax, which could raise as much as $750 million over four years.

The funds will help Atlanta pay for sewer improvements required by a federal consent decree. They will also pay for stormwater projects and other water-related improvements, including expanding both water and sewer capacity.

Those projects include a five-mile tunnel from the Chattahoochee River to Bellwood Quarry, which would allow the city to keep a 30-day supply of water on hand. The tax would also help fund retaining ponds at several parks along the future path of the Beltline trail, and improvements at the R.M. Clayton Water Reclamation Center.

Money would also be used to assess the city’s sewers and pipelines and fund the cleaning of the Nancy Creek tunnel, which is designed to catch sewage overflows in case of a spill, and is filled with debris.

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